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Difference Between KSH and BASH


There are many “shells” in both Linux and Unix. Two kinds of these numerous shells are KSH and Bash.

KSH and Bash are shells in the field of computer programming. Basically, they are shells with their own set of commands and features. KSH and Bash are somewhat related to each other since KSH encompasses the features of .sh or Bourne shell, the predecessor of the Bash shell.

As shells, both have programmable shells and command processors in Linux and UNIX computer systems. They also carry out commands for use via a keyboard terminal or from a file.

KSH is also known as the Korn shell. The Korn shell was developed by David Korn, and it attempts to merge the features of fellow shells like C shell, TC shell and Bourne shell. It allows the developers to create new shell commands when needed.

Korn shell is developed many years before the emergence of the BASH shell. Because it is older than BASH, it has less resources, and it also attracts limited computer users. To compensate, the Korn shell has released different versions like pdksh (Public domain ksh), mksh (a modification of the pdksh), ksh88 and the very recent ksh93.

The Korn shell has associative arrays and handles the loop syntax better than Bash. The Korn shell’s print command is also better than the Bash’s echo command. This shell’s r-history command allows a quicker process of doing a rerun of older commands.

On the other hand, “Bash” stands for “Bourne Again Shell.” It is basically a clone of the Bourne shell (or .sh). It was created by the Freeware Software Foundation and it is written and licensed under the GNU or General Public License. These conditions make the Bash shell as a public domain shell and completely free and widely used in the open-source community.

Because it echoes some of the features of the original Bourne shell, it also has the similar features with the Korn shell with some added extensions. The Bash, compared to the KSH shell, is more recent, more popular, and has a multitude of resources for people who wish to learn about using this particular shell.

Two of the useful features of Bash are tab completion and the easier method to set a prompt in order to display the current directory. Bash is also the current default shell in many Linux models.

Both shells can be used interchangeably since they both belong and ascribe some features of the Bourne shell. A syntax in the KSH shell can run in a Bash shell without encountering errors or problems.


1.Both KSH and Bash function as interactive command interpreters and command programming languages in the Linux or UNIX systems.
2.KSH and Bash shells are also products of combinations of other shells’ features. Bash and KSH are both Bourne-compatible shells. Since they share common features and overlap each other, there are interchangeable to use. This causes some confusion to novice users.
3.Both shells are standard shells in a UNIX system and can be replaced depending on the user’s needs and preferences. 4.KSH is available to use in many platforms as well as Bash.
5.Bash is a newer shell compared to the KSH shell. Bash, as the new shell, has more resources and more computer users as followers. Bash is a free and public utility shell which is often used in open-source communities and applications.
6.Bash also acts as an extension of the Korn shell since it incorporates the features of the latter shell and some added features.

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  1. It’s a very general overview. I would keen to see some real life examples involving difference in dealing with arrays, history, printing and loops – but no luck. My score – B minus.

  2. “Both shells can be used interchangeably since they both belong and ascribe some features of the Bourne shell. A syntax in the KSH shell can run in a Bash shell without encountering errors or problems.”

    Yeah, about that. That’s not always true. Older versions of bash don’t like if statements with multiple conditionals. Korn shell will let you do this, but bash can be problematic with this. In other words, with korn shell you can write an if statement like this:

    if [[ $variable_a = “” ]] && [[ $variable_b = “” ]] && [[ $variable_c = “” ]]; then

    In older versions of bash you have to keep the number of conditionals in the if statement to two or less. That would look like this:

    if [[ $variable_a = “” ]] && [[ $variable_b = “” ]]; then

    Some versions of bash don’t even allow for two conditionals in an if statement. The workaround is to use nested if statements like this:

    if [[ $variable_a = “” ]];then
    if [[ $variable_b = “” ]]; then
    echo “executing stuff”

    In this respect, Korn shell has an advantage over bash since it is more friendly to multiple conditionals in an if statement.

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